The Turkish government has reportedly set a $530,000 reward for Enes Kanter Freedom, a pro-America former NBA player who has been an ardent campaigner for human rights.
The athlete, who was born in Switzerland to Turkish parents, has been a vocal opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prompting Ankara to label him a “terrorist” and offer a reward for anybody who assists in his arrest.
In a separate interview, Freedom, who legally changed his name from Enes Kanter and will become a US citizen in 2021, claimed Ankara constantly jeopardizes the lives of dissidents.
Freedom has attacked the NBA for its tight ties with China in addition to attacking his motherland. He has fought with NBA superstar LeBron James, who has been harshly critical of the United States, notably under the Trump administration, but has backed Beijing’s record on human rights.
Freedom’s fans say the 30-year-old athlete’s readiness to criticize the league is the reason he hasn’t been on a team in over a year.
Freedom has played in the NBA for 11 seasons, including stops with the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, Portland Trailblazers, and, most recently, the Boston Celtics in 2021-22.
The 6-foot-10-inch center has made more over $100 million for averaging 11.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He was selected third overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Freedom represented Turkey’s national team from 2008 to 2015, but was disillusioned with the country as it got increasingly autocratic under Erdogan.